As long as there’ll be Hardmoors, we’ll be coming back again…

Where do you begin to tell a story that had no real drama, no conflict, no epic twist that I can use an enticing opening paragraph? Because this is going to be very self-indulgent, I am going to start nine years ago, when I first ran this race.

In 2014, I had done a year of shorter ultras, some 30+ milers all culminating in the Hardmoors 60, so felt the time was right to step up to the Hardmoors Grand Slam; a 30, 55, 110 and 60 mile race series. I wrote about them all in one place as my first ever blog here. What I didn’t do was go into great detail about the 110, my first 100 miler, but it went so well and I enjoyed it so much that there wasn’t that much to say. I had a great weekend with friends, making memories and taking away so much confidence: it felt like after that, anything was possible.

Several years and more ultras passed and to be honest, none of them – bar the 60 in the same year and Lakeland 50 in 2017 – felt as good as that first 110. I was never able to replicate or surpass how well I ran and how much I got from it that I just thought nothing would match up, but I did always have the niggling feeling that I could do it better with all this experience. After UTMB last year, I had convinced myself that while I was tough and gritty, I had lost my ability to actually run well over distance. Nothing I had done in the last few years felt good in terms of performance; maybe I had had my moment in the sun and I was past my best. But, a conversation with one of my athletes made me think about the 110 again. I wanted to try again so why not now? Why not put in some really focused training and take a risk?

For the first time in years, I asked Jayson to write a plan for me. It is easy to assume that you can do it yourself and I know that I can, but I wanted to have that outside pair of eyes and brain that I knew would push me and do things a little differently than I would for myself, that wouldn’t play it safe. And he didn’t. We built slowly with targeted sessions on Zwift to increase my fitness before building the run volume and intensity, including some medium length runs mid week, as well as longer hill sessions towards the end of the block. Rather than my usual heavier gym sessions, we included some higher intensity, shorter sessions before moving into lighter mobility focused work. And of course, there were the long days out as we headed towards the race. For me, after a few years of not putting any sustained periods of work in for more than a month or two, this was pushing me out of my comfort zone and actually giving me the best chance of getting the race I wanted. It was what I had to do to know that I had given it everything I had to be as prepared as possible. That comes with risk though and towards the end of a lovely Let’s Run round in early April, a very uncomfortable niggle flared up in my left ankle and shin. I kept going on it for a couple of weeks, including a long day out at the coast where it came up again, this time making me stop and reassess. The hard hill sessions were replaced with Zwift rides and I went to see a few different practitioners who all said similar things. My mechanics are not great and something I have always known is that rather than using my big toe to push off, I can swing my leg around, causing my ankle to flex less than it should. So, I needed to do a bit less and get to work with specific exercises. So I did! My one concession was the Yorkshire Three Peaks race where again, it flared up, but I got through this time telling myself that if it didn’t calm down, I would be dropping out of the 110. I doubled down on the rehab exercises and threw everything at it including red light, magnesium oil and ultra sound. The last month before the race became an extended taper and I was not feeling confident.

Another thing that was worrying me a little was that my period was due on the day of the race, not a huge deal but one that can make things more unpleasant and can result in more stoppage time as well as the inevitable discomfort and leaden feeling. Fate was on my side though and it came five days early, meaning I was free and clear for race weekend! I took this as a sign that maybe things would be okay! It was also at the last minute – two days before the race – that I realised one of my crew, Steve, thought that it was on the last weekend in the month! It was too short notice for him to change plans, so we adapted but it was a shame that I wouldn’t have him there to chivvy me on as he did the first time. It soon rolled around though, and at 6.30am on Saturday morning, we set off for Filey Brigg.

In 2015, the race was run from Helmsley to Filey, so I knew this would feel very different. The morning was cold too with a brisk wind and I was nervous as I lined up to get registered. Lining up at the start, I found myself next to Simon Tyrrell, one of Jayson’s athletes and a fellow club member about to start his first 100. We jogged along together for a bit, both trying to avoid talking about the mammoth day ahead and I ultimately pulled away from him. I fell in with another friend, Scott Ulatowski from darn sarf, also aiming for his second completion after his first 9 years ago! We chatted about how people go too fast at the start on something so runnable and he eventually ran on ahead, ultimately pulling out later on. Bit of irony there Scott?! Running that first 10 miles or so through Scarborough, again, chatting with a fellow runner about the UTMB, I felt great. I was moving so comfortably, also enjoying  a bit of mild winding up of Chia Charge Tim as I would to and fro with his relay team all day. The Sea Life Centre for me marks the start of the trail properly, as you leave town behind and get out onto the cliffs. I jogged into the car park just as Jayson drove around the corner, and he jumped out to give me a bag of wraps and carrot bun, as well as a top up of water to see me through to Ravenscar about 21 miles in. I didn’t want to use the CPs except for the odd cola and water top up, so he would meet me when he could without breaking my rhythm.

Nothing much happened on this first section and I was tootling along nicely as the morning warmed up. My niggle was staying quiet and I honestly felt pretty good, enjoying  the views and the chat with Stephen Kirk, always interesting! Approaching Ravenscar, I saw some folks marking out for the lovely trail half marathon taking place the day after and also clocked that there was another woman in front of me. At no point did I think about racing and didn’t really know if there were other women ahead but was aware that she was there! The route comes off the Cleveland Way here to take you uphill to the village hall, one of only two indoor CPs. I ran in, topped up with water and was straight back out, aware now that I was in front of the other woman. Due to erosion, the diversion along the old railway line here was also lovely, mostly shaded but quite warm and just busy enough with walkers and a few cyclists. It is a quicker route, despite being longer as there are no ups and downs as there are on the cliff path. Stephen came jogging past me here, that natural speed perfect for this sort of track and I didn’t see him again as he finished 2nd in a fantastic time.

Robin Hood’s Bay comes at about 25 miles in and I was making good time here, coming through in about 4.5 hours. I had been eating well, soggy rice wraps and carrot buns, as well as the odd sweet and was ready to get more food in. Jayson had parked right on the route, so I was able to us the motorhome loo and reapply suncream, as well as grab some melon. I cracked on and this section also clicked away nicely, just with fewer people around, but I love the coast and was very content moving along on my own. It was a nice surprise to see Harriet and Karl at the Hornblower café where I got more water before heading towards Whitby.

It is always a bit of a shock coming into Whitby on a busy, warm weekend when you have been on the trail but the blow was softened by seeing Garry and Steve at the abbey. I hadn’t been expecting  them until Sandsend and all they did was encourage me through and take some video but it was such a great moment! This was also where the fret was coming in, shrouding the abbey: it looked magical. Down the 199 steps and weaving through the masses, I meandered my way through town, still marvelling at how good I felt if I’m honest. It was starting to get a little harder to eat my soggy wraps but I did, knowing it would pay off in the long run.


Great crew and melon: perfect combination!


As I ran along the interminable stretch of pavement towards Sandsend, I could see Jayson and Moss coming back up from the beach and into the motorhome. For the second time that day, they had just got to me in time! I reapplied Sudocrem to my feet, this being around 35 miles in. After convincing myself that blisters were inevitable on long ultras, I have had my mind changed recently. My main issues were pinch calluses and hard skin, meaning that deep blisters developed from the impact of moving rather than friction. After UTMB though, we realised that most of my recent events had involved more walking than running and that even when I got some blisters on other races, running more seemed to keep them manageable. I had also trialled Sudocrem rather than taping in training as well as getting  some Saucony Xodus Ultras and it seemed to work! So this was my first of two Sudocrem stops. Garry and Steve were here too, Steve dropping Garry off and heading home. We briefly chatted about the foot strategy, I got Sudocrem on Jayson’s shorts and on the dog, and I headed off again, fully loaded once more. Reaching the car park before getting back onto the trail, Claire Howard came over. She was waiting to support run and all she could say to me was ‘Ooooo!’ and try not to cry! This route, race and especially the coast are beloved by us both and she was so happy that I was having such a lovely day! A random man – who turned out to be support for another friend – asked if I wanted anything and I said I could do with some melon as I had forgotten mine. He very kindly gave a slice of watermelon as Claire and I fangirled over Laura Swanton-Rouvelin, one of only 4 of the 200 mile race finishers, as she got some attention from her crew. What a run! Watermelon is 100% one of the best things to eat on something like this too, so thanks random man.

Leaving Sandsend, the easy path is bordered by some beautiful little trails and I was reminded again of how stunning this area is. The bright gorse and the winding singletrack off to the side really does help you to forget that you have so much further to go. The fret was really thick now on the tops of the cliffs but I was grateful for it as it kept the temperature down, making it easier to eat and to move well. The only part of this section that stands out to me is the Gorge of Doom down onto the beach at Runswick Bay. I always find it tricky but today was particularly disgusting, the rocks slick with grease and several walkers trying to navigate it too. They all graciously let me through but one lady was gripping onto the rope handrail for dear life, as I would have done, so I had to apologise for getting inappropriately close to her as I swung myself round. Phew. Safely on the beach, I headed for the packed sand closer to the sea, weaving through people and rivulets of run-off from the cliffs. I got a Babybel down as I ascended the steep path to the CP and was greeted by a lovely Rachael Welby hug and some kind words. A swig of cola, a top up of water and I was off again, 41 miles in the bag and still feeling strong. The fret cooled me again as I headed closer to the cliffs, and I was delighted to see club friends, Peter and Georgie, out on a walk. More sweaty hugs and a picture that I actually like (this is rare!), they told me that I was moving faster and better than anyone they had seen so far and were bemused at how happy I was! Buoyed on again, I ran on cresting through picture perfect Staithes and down into Skinningrove, home to some surprisingly excellent public toilets.

Happy to see friends.

The sandy path is a little confusing here as it heads into dunes before it climbs steeply up again and this was where I met Donald, who I was to see several more times. He didn’t know the area at all and it was his first time over 75 miles so ultimately he had a great run considering. Clearly a fast runner, he was frustrated that he had already gone wrong a few times, so I reassured him and he ran out of sight. Rounding a corner, I couldn’t see him and knew he had gone off course again, so I shouted his name off into the dunes! He reappeared and got back on course, again steaming ahead. The charm bracelet eventually emerged out of the mist, marking the beginning of the descent into Saltburn and I was really chuffed to have made it to the 50 mile point in about 9.5 hours as that had been a secret target for me. Hitting the tarmac in Saltburn, still feeling good, I made my way up the road and someone asked me where the arcades were!  A reminder of how different people spend their Saturdays!! Garry came out to meet me just before the bandstand CP and I was cheered through before arriving at the motorhome for a Sudocrem top up,  a t-shirt and sock change and more substantial food. I had requested chips here as it was around early tea time and I was looking forward to some chip shop chips, doused in salt and vinegar. But, I hadn’t been that specific, so Jayson served me up some oven chips, a great idea if I needed some overnight too. I had a few while I sat, along with some black chai tea, but I found them really hard to eat, so we bagged them up and Garry and I headed out. A few hundred metres into the Valley Gardens and a few more chips down, I puked them all back up, the first time I have involuntarily been sick in a race. I was in a good frame of mind though, so we just accepted it and kept moving, slowing a bit to settle things down. This next section is quite urban and I hadn’t been through it since the Hardmoors 160 in 2021, so when we emerged into a new housing estate, we were thrown! Donald was there too, looking mightily confused. Garry got his phone out and directed us through and it was quite simple. At this point, Donald turned and asked me if I was doing the relay, and when I told him I was doing the whole thing, he looked surprised and told me I was doing well. I know he meant to be kind and this sort of thing usually just gives me that bit of extra fire to do even better but it can be a little wearing to be underestimated because I don’t necessarily look like a typical runner! I brushed it off and carried on, Garry saying that he could get something from the nearby corner shop if I needed something different to eat. I asked for Softmints or similar and he ran on ahead, saying he would catch us up. Not paying attention again, I followed Donald briefly up a path at the side of a field and realising we were wrong, we turned back and got back on track. He ran ahead again and there was still no sign of Garry. I kept going, looking behind me and wondering if there was a big queue in the shop! He eventually came up in front of me, having legged it down the track while we went wrong for around 2 minutes! Realising  that I probably wasn’t doing 7.30 pace, he backtracked and got my Mentos to me, perfect after being sick. We pootled along again, crossing the road at Slapewath and heading towards the moors through Guisborough Woods. I kept trying to eat along here but just kept bringing it back up, again, not letting it get to me too much and just trying to keep moving well. The odd piece of Voom Pocket Rocket bar stayed in okay as well as the mints so at least that was something.

To be heading up Roseberry Topping in the daylight felt like a big win and we were up and down in no time, seeing some of the front runners on the out and back section. Always lovely to see Hem Rana, ever smiley and doing well! As we motored along towards Captain Cook’s monument, Garry had to stop and take a picture of the sun setting behind Roseberry, the orangey-pink glow lighting up the top of the hill as if it was on fire. There aren’t many other sports where you get to see a sunset and a sunrise over such stunning scenery! Jayson met us again here at Gribdale Gate, the car park for Captain Cook’s and I think I tried a Mugshot here. The soft noodles meant I didn’t have to chew much and the Thai green curry flavour was a welcome change, with a slight tang and bit of heat. I knew I only had two of these though and they would be virtually impossible to buy overnight! I also knew that ice lollies worked well when other food didn’t but things are getting fuzzy now and I can’t remember if I had one or not! I think I also got my headtorch on here as it was just starting to get darker and may have brushed my teeth.

Roseberry ablaze

Kildale CP was only about 1.5 miles away so I knew I would be in and out of there, assuming there might be a kit check too. Again, we met Donald on the road into the village, wondering how much further it was to the CP and I assume his drop bag. This was a lovely welcoming CP, with a few familiar faces including one of my athletes Jonathan Jamison. I think I had some cola here but with no kit check, we headed out quickly into the night and the notorious Blowarth Crossing section. The long tarmac drag and the wide, often rubbly track seem to go on forever and I am pretty sure that I was a bit quieter along here. Garry kept getting me to eat the odd thing, especially after the Voom bars seemed to have given me a bit of a kick, but the caffeine in them was making me feel even more sketchy. We talked about tv for a while until finally reaching the turn and the fingerpost that starts the section down to Clay Bank where we had a little cheer between us. The fog/fret was horrendous by now and familiar landmarks took an age to appear. I got into a weird flow along here though and was running ahead of Garry who kept giving me words of encouragement. My breathing was quite forceful and fast and I recall wondering how I hadn’t tripped with such poor visibility. There must have been an unconscious need to get off this section and to make the night go quicker. It was interesting to see too that from Kildale to Clay Bank, I ran the third fastest split of the race overall – thanks Eddy Healey for the spreadsheet stats! As we descended to Clay Bank, my headtorch flicked off, so Garry handed me his and used his phone torch to get to the bottom. We reached Jayson here and swapped out my small battery for the larger one but again, my memory of what else happened here is fuzzy!

The Three Sisters in the fog were an experience. I didn’t see the sharp drop down through the Wainstones scramble until I was right on top of it and we even dithered a couple of times at the bottom of the descents as we couldn’t clearly see the way forward. For a section that I have done countless times in the day and the night, this was really tough so I am awed by anyone else that got over here without knowing the route. It was the same at the top of Carlton Bank: we reached the trig and taking a slight turn to the left, ended up heading in the wrong direction before realising that we should have been running on slabs! It was somewhere around here that we met up with Ross Cooling, leader of the 200, and his support runner. Still wearing his shorts after two days and almost two nights out, he had at least put an insulated jacket on! He was moving really well though, even to the point of charging past us on an uphill. We toed and froed with him here until ultimately running together on the rough descent into Osmotherley, me leading the way, something that doesn’t happen on downhills usually. It was lovely though to just listen to our support runners chatting away and it was incredible to me that Ross himself was still so lucid. He had been sick too, also struggling to keep much down but seemingly not missing his sleep too much.

Running off the edge of the world!

We all came into Square Corner together and it was great to see Heather Ford, Ross’s crew person. We have run together a lot over the years and she had just had a great run at Northern Traverse after suffering a lot on the 160 the year I did it. Everyone at this end of both of the races, runners and crew, were so composed and matter of fact. It was a big help that we all just metaphorically got our heads down and got on with it without any fuss. I was determined to try and eat something more than just sweets to see me through the last 20 miles. I suggested Super Noodles without any flavouring but one mouthful and I was sick again. I heard Garry tell Jayson that this is what I had been doing all night, not just retching, properly being sick, as I wasn’t sure if he knew the extent of it! I brushed my teeth again, my top tip for long ultras by the way! The light was appearing now though and, after feeling groggy through the early hours, I knew this would bring me some renewed energy. I also asked for the first time what sort of cushion I had on second place, and Jayson told me about an hour. A glance was exchanged between him and Garry that I knew meant it was a white lie: I had more time and he just didn’t want to me slow down and be disappointed in my finish time! I didn’t say anything though as I was still going to give it what I had. We had said that Garry would stop here as this was where his car was but I had asked him to stay with me until the end when I was feeling rough in the night. He had agreed but it would mean him doing around 60 miles with me, as well as us then having to get him back to his car afterwards. We decided it was best for him to stop here and drive to Sutton Bank where we could assess if I needed him on the last stretch. Jayson walked out with me up Black Hambleton, the long climb towards Sutton Bank, and put the latest Tea and Trails podcast on my phone to keep me company. I may have had another lolly here too but who can remember?? Jayson turned back and I was on my own for the first time since the previous evening in Saltburn, but this was a stretch I knew well, the fog was gone and the sun was coming up. I caught Ross back up and bypassed him, again running pretty well considering that I had nothing in the tank but being powered on by familiar voices on the podcast. Catching another 110 runner just after High Paradise Farm, I felt like I cruised the descent only to have to be sick again just after the Sneck Yate road crossing because I foolishly tried to eat a lemon chewy sweet! He passed me again just before Sutton Bank and coming into the car park, I saw the motorhome waiting for me. I grabbed an ice lollly, saying my hellos and swift goodbyes to Emily from the running club who was crewing someone else and Heather once again.

The section down to the White Horse is never much fun for me so I slowed again a little on the rough and steep descent, by now listening to a music podcast, 60 songs that explain the 90s. Straight through the CP with the encouragement of the marshals and up the hellish steps (thank goodness for the bannister!) where Garry was trotting out to meet me after he had a short sleep. I turned the podcast off to be polite but he told me I could keep it on if I needed so I did but quickly realised that it was too clever for me to take in properly! I think I even use the word ‘cerebral’ when I said I was going to put some cheesy music on instead! Finding a Backstreet Boys playlist on Spotify, we chugged along to various tunes including early Justin Bieber and Britney. I asked Garry if I really only had an hour on second too and he told me the truth; it was more like three hours, so it was all mine to lose! Seeing Jayson for the last time at the turn off down towards the gallops, this was the home straight and I knew that I had it in the bag.

Coming into Helmsley.

This was a great section, one where I could start to take in how good a run this had been for me and to know that I would take from it what I had wanted when I entered. Garry and I talked about music and he kept drip feeding me the odd sweet, and I think we were both just really enjoying being out on the Cleveland Way together. Partway up the final climb after the turn off the Rievaulx road, Jayson appeared, telling us it was about 2 miles to the end now. He had been looking at previous times too and told me that I would be the second fastest female time as well as the fastest time in this direction, if I could keep a decent pace. What a great feeling it was to still be running, although I had gone a little quiet now and was happy to listen to them talk between them. Jayson told us that Steve had messaged that morning to say he was coming to the end as well, which was perfect. Running past the Cleveland Way stone, we had a little cheer and then I had to have a couple of short walks, as I wanted to run up the road and into the football club finish: I knew that the small incline would feel like a hill after all this time! Steve joined us somewhere along here too, and we all jogged up the road, me shouting at myself to ‘come on!’ as encouragement to keep running. Rounding the corner, my amazing crew all dropped back to let me finish and I came into the hall in 24.15, laying face down on the floor. I didn’t do it to be dramatic, although I know it looks that way! It is the only way that I can not be overwhelmed by other people and can gather myself after such a big effort, as well as have a little cry and a rest! We all took ourselves outside where Steve gave us fresh orange juice and bacon sandwiches (I just managed the OJ!) as well as running to the shop when I said that all I wanted to eat was ice! We stayed outside for at least an hour: I was pretty shaky and weak and just wanted to be still for a while. It was lovely though to be presented with the sword with friends around me, including the Chia Charge relay team who came in just before the prizegiving. A perfect cherry on top of a fantastic weekend.

Always match your nails to your trainers!

When I entered this race again after 9 years, I wanted to see if I could still run a strong 100 mile race. The last few years had knocked me and I had little confidence that I could do it but I had to have one more go, just to see whether I should stop trying to do these things well and just see them as jolly days out. With a really solid block of training, keeping my support simple and just getting on with it, it looks like I still have it in me! Despite the sickness, everything else went so well and it was flipping brilliant to not have any foot issues! It might only be a race and it might only be running, but what it can give you is hard to beat.

I think I broke Garry too!


  • Amy Le Sueur on May 26, 2024

    This is an incredible read and an incredible feat! Amazing work, Kim!

  • Graham on May 26, 2024

    Great run by strong woman.your great strength and determination is so inspiring to make difference to many when I have dark days close my eyes think about your amazing makes massive difference.

  • Rory Campbell on May 27, 2024

    Excellent read, Kim and so well done!
    I’m picking up some tips from that run!

  • Andy Stephenson on May 27, 2024

    Great read Kim. Knowing the route well I could really picture you and the team in the different sections- totally drew me in. Well done you and team Gary and Jayson! It ain’t over til it’s over!

  • Kendra wedgwood on May 27, 2024

    Absolutely loved reading this!!!! Really inspiring!!!! 💪

  • Steve Grant on May 28, 2024

    What’s really lovely to read (albeit obvious to some) is the struggles that those at the top end of their game have, exactly like those of us in mid pack mediocrity. Anxiety being the main one! Beautiful account Kim, one that encourages all of us to push the boundaries when in doubt and just go for it 🙂

  • Jo Armisteac on June 11, 2024

    That has made me well up…again…i did as we tracked you into Chamonix, shouting at the tracker and passing my thoughts to caroline and ian, and again now. Bloody awesome stuff. X

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